Blues moves: Trade for a goal scorer? Not so fast....

The Blues supposed big need in the trade market is a scorer. The Blues aren't scoring enough goals, so the obvious solution is to go get a goal scorer. I think we might not be looking at the problem of the Blues scoring woes the right way. One member of the media brought this up, and I'd like to give credit where it's due, but I've honestly forgotten who it was that nested this idea in my brain initially. So, I'm just going to pass off his idea as my own and then expand on it to really claim it.

Look at the Blues forwards: Chris Stewart is a goal scorer. Patrik Berglund has topped 20 goals in a season twice before and has the potential to beat that. T.J. Oshie has the ability to score a bunch of goals. David Backes has scored 30 or more a couple times. David Perron scored 20 in his last full season and has the skills to score more. Alexander Steen scored 20 or more each of the last two seasons and was on pace for over 30 before his injury. Matt D'Agostini broke out for 21 last year and can pick some corners when he gets the right setup.

The Blues have goal scorers. What they need is a playmaker. A guy who "sees the ice" and looks to pass first would be deadly when teamed up with almost any two of the players listed above. Picture a guy like Brad Richards working the pivot with those shoot-firsters on the team. Or with the creepy Sedin who passes. Or with big, soft, passing center Joe Thornton. Just like with the woes on the power play - it's not that the Blues don't have guys who are afraid to blaze away on net (the Note are seventh in the league in shots per game and have shown a willingness to fire away during the man-add too). The problem looks more like it's about the quality of the shots that are being taken, not the quantity.

What good does it do the Blues to go get a goal scorer if there isn't a true top-quality playmaker to set him up any better than the current forwards? You could make the argument that when Andy McDonald returns to the lineup next week or next month that he could immediately improve the scoring of the players around him. But when will he return? And when he does, are you or, more importantly, is Doug Armstrong confident that Happy Meal can make it through the rest of the season or the wars of the playoffs without getting dinged again? What happens if he exits the lineup again and the Blues are back to being a bunch of shooters with no set-up guys?

The problem with trying to trade for a quality playmaker, of course, is that you have to find one first. The list of potentially available set-up artists is pretty thin. Do you trust Ales Hemsky to not be Petr Cajanek-soft? Ray Whitney has had a great year in Phoenix, but is that a mirage? Derek Roy from Buffalo has a good history, but has been terrible this year - would a change of scenery fix him or would the Blues get stuck with a very expensive under-performer?

To me, if a trade is to be made, that's the one to make. I'm not sure I'd want to be the guy who makes the call on which playmaker to go get, but Armstrong has proven that he can make the stealthy move that no one saw coming. Who will he go after? Let's look at a list.

These players are on teams that will be sellers at the deadline. They are also the types of players that sellers will be looking to unload, either because they have expiring contracts, heavy contracts or will bring a heavy return. Best guesses only; do your damage in the comments.

-Columbus: Rick Nash, Jeff Carter. Might as well start with the worst team with the biggest rumored names. These two also happen to be the least likely to come to St. Louis.

  1. Neither guy fits what the Blues need as they are shooters more than playmakers.
  2. They both have stupid, stupid contracts (which Armstrong seems to not favor): Nash is making $7.8 million a year through 2018, when he will be 33 years old, while Carter's cap hit is $5.27 million a year through 2022, when he will be 37 years old. Nash has a NTC, but is willing to waive it. Carter's doesn't kick in until next season.
  3. A trade within the division is hard to make, especially on Nash. Does Columbus want him showing up three times a year to drive a stake through their hearts?

(as an aside, I think Columbus loves stupid contracts. If not for his dumb contract (cap hit of $4.6 million for five years - he'll be 34) R.J. Umberger would be a target for a lot of teams (not the Blues - we have guys like him in spades and they all make way less for way fewer years) because he has playoff-type qualities. Instead, they're stuck with his fading skills and giant contract. Terrible.)

-Anaheim: Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan. Anaheim is poo somehow, even with these guys. Seems impossible, but they are not good and they are crazily thinking about trading some of these guys. Should make you wary if you're a GM. Why are they trying to move good guys? Why can't they perform? Why do they want out of Southern California? Warning signs are everywhere. Perry and Ryan don't fit our needs - they're both great, but they're more of what the Blues already have.

  • Getzlaf is a possibility, as he is a center with a decent contract and playmaker sensibilities. His early balding and recently fading scoring totals aside (just 58 points last year, only 39 so far this year), the 26-year-old could be an impact player in St. Louis, where he has a lot of mix-and-match possibilities with the shooters he could be paired with. He does not have a No Trade/No Movement clause.
-Edmonton: Ryan Smyth, Ales Hemsky. Smyth would be a mistake as he's not a good fit - just more of the same. Hemsky is a playmaker, but his injury history and diminishing skillset makes him a longshot at best. It'd be the equivalent of Chicago picking up Brendan Morrison: five years ago that would have been an amazing trade. He does not have a NTC/NMC.

-Montreal: Scott Gomez, Tomas Plekanec, Brian Gionta. Dear god, no. All are overpaid, all are underachieving. If Montreal even calls Doug Armstrong he should pretend he's in a meeting. No matter when they call.

-Carolina: Eric Staal, Tuomo Ruutu. In a weak deadline class, Ruutu has value. Just not to the Blues. Staal has been rumored to be a trading chip, but come on, yo, that guy and his $8.2 million cap hit isn't going anywhere. At least he's not coming to St. Louis.

-Buffalo: Derek Roy. Look, when you're as bad as Buffalo and have players as overpaid as they have, everyone is available. The Blues, however, would only be interested in a guy like Roy. Problem is he makes $4 million this year and next and is having a terrible season. Is he worth the risk, or would the Sabres just laugh as they reversed the Boyes trade by dealing him to St. Louis?

He's a pass-first guy, so he might be worth the risk, but what would he cost? Berglund? Bishop? A draft pick? Hard to say, as the highest payroll in the NHL Sabres might just be happy to dump some baggage. He does not have a NTC/NMC.

-NY Islanders: Nope.

-Tampa Bay: Vincent Lecavalier or Martin St. Louis. Either player would be an interesting addition to the Blues, but St. Louis would be more of the player that St. Louis needs. That said:
  • Both are very expensive and on the back end of their careers (Lecavalier's cap hit is $7.7 million through 2020, while St. Louis' hit is $5.6 through 2015. Both will be 40years old when the contracts expire.)
  • Does management think the streaky Lightning can make the playoffs? Can they afford the PR trick of trading either guy?
  • Would either player waive their No Movement Clauses and leave Tampa?
  • The cost to get either player would likely be heavy.
-Winnipeg: Pass. Remember, this was a crappy Atlanta team just a year ago. Now it's a crappy Winnipeg team. No one there qualifies as the playmaker in discussion here.

-Phoenix: Ray Whitney, Radim Vrbata. Vrbata is having a breakout season, but more as a goal scorer than a playmaker. Whitney fits the profile as a playoff rental player almost perfectly: he is in the last year of his contract, the Coyotes are struggling to make the playoffs, he isn't expensive ($3 million pro-rated) and he won't likely cost much in trade to acquire him.
I'd consider Whitney and his 16 goals, 29 assists a mid-grade target for the Blues if they do go looking for a playmaker.

-Calgary: Are Jarome Iginla, Olli Jokinen or Alex Tanguay going to be available? If so, do any really address the Blues' issue? Iginla is a stud, sure, but is he what the team needs. Beyond that, all three have no movement clauses and would have to waive them. Jokinen and Tanguay also aren't exactly game-changing acquisitions at this point in their careers, either.

-Colorado: The Avalanche are sliding out of playoff contention again and have been trading partners of the Blues before. Could the Blues pull off the trade everyone really wants and land Paul Stastny? He's struggling offensively this year (though hot lately) after having an off year last season. Here are the issues:
  • He makes $6 million a year, which is expensive on the Avs and affordable for the Blues.
  • He does not have a NMC, so he could be traded without veto.
  • Do the Avs want to move him and make room for more of the younger guys in their pipeline?
  • Would a change of scenery and a return to St. Louis, where he spent a lot of his younger years help him?
  • He fits the profile the Blues would be looking for: 26 years old, more of a playmaker than a scorer (118 career goals, 235 career assists), already knows many of the young, core Blues
The return would not be cheap, but the Blues have the assets to make this trade worthwhile for Colorado. Would they move him?

At this point, every other team is in the playoff picture and won't be quick to trade away a playmaker to the Blues. Options are obviously available, though not nearly as many as one might initially think. Looking at the names above, you'd have to think a list of coveted playmakers on Doug Armstrong's list includes these names (the order is mine):
  1. Paul Stastny
  2. Martin St. Louis
  3. Ryan Getzlaf
  4. Derek Roy
  5. Ray Whitney
Can any of these happen? We'll all know for sure sometime in the next three weeks.
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